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Chicago Bulls End-of-Season Report

Kiyoshi Mio / USA TODAY Sports

A Fan's Perspective: The All-Star Break Is Much Needed For The Chicago Bulls - On Tap Sports Net

The Chicago Bulls are no longer seeing red.

The tumultuous season for the Bulls officially came to an end with their loss to the Miami Heat in the play-in tournament. Sure, we can talk about their play-in win against the Toronto Raptors, even though their most valuable asset in that game was likely Diar DeRozan.

A mediocre 40-42 regular season now makes 5 losing seasons out of the last 6. Every step forward has been met with an equidistant step back. All year, the Chicago Bulls continued to show the association what their front office refuses to believe: they are a disaster.



The Bulls finished 46-36 last season and spent a considerable amount of time at the top of the Eastern Conference. Head coach Billy Donovan would return for his third year with the club. Team executive Artūras Karnišovas preached the importance of “continuity” within this organization, emphasizing keeping together their all-star caliber trio of DeMar DeRozan, Zach Lavine, and Nikola Vucevic. He helped sign Lavine to a multi-year extension, locking him up until at least 2026. Other important supporting cast members like Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball were seen as the glue to keep this team afloat, as long as they could stay on the court. In addition to other developing youngsters like Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White, and Patrick Williams, the Bulls seemingly had all the depth they needed and were looking to challenge their win total from the season prior.

And then the season actually began.

A 6-6 start then became 6-10, which became 9-14, and then 11-18…. You get the idea. The Bulls never quite got going. Lonzo Ball was out and would end up missing the entire season, a brutal blow that had adverse effects on both ends of the court. DeRozan, Lavine, and Vucevic had admirable stat lines, but could seemingly never coexist consistently as a unit. Aside from that, no other suitors truly stepped up to fill in the many gaps that were present from the start.

With how south the season was heading, many found it head-scratching that the Bulls did not make a single move at the trade deadline to try and bolster their lineup. They quickly followed that up by losing 6 in a row heading into the All-Star break. However, the signing of hometown legend Patrick Beverley seemed to turn the tides of war in the Bulls’ favor. The erratic Pat Bev helped the Bulls to a 14-9 record the rest of the season, helping to squeeze some of the potential that fans know is present with this team. Alas, the magic had to run out at some point.

Let’s take a deeper look and investigate what happened for the Bulls on both offense and defense.


Offense: D

With all of the weapons they possess at each position, the Bulls were an abysmal 24th in the league in offensive efficiency. In addition, they were 22nd in total points and in the bottom third of free throw attempts and offensive rebounds. 

This simply should not be happening on a team with the level of talent the Bulls possess. A team will always be fairly reliant on its best scorers for offense, but the problem that faced the Bulls was giving them. Both LaVine and DeRozan combined, totaled over 40% of the Bulls’ total points. Not only that, adding in of Nikola Vucevic’s contributions balloons that number to over 55%.

Other expected contributors like Dosunmu, White, and Caruso failed to step up their offensive production from the year prior. The Bulls not having their prolific scorers in games was an immediate hit to their offense.

However, teams have still found success by heavily relying on a couple scorers. The 2nd seeded Boston Celtics had over 41% of their scoring done by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Why else, then, was this offense still so atrocious?

It comes down to their ability to create shots for each other. The Bulls were 20th in the league in assists per game. Their two leading dime droppers were also Lavine and DeRozan, who only posted 4 and 5 assists a game respectively. They could create shots and make plays for themselves, but could not consistently do the same for their teammates. And even when their teammates did get an open look, it likely still didn’t end well.

The Bulls were dead last in the league in three-point attempts and makes. The year-long absence of Lonzo Ball, a fantastic passer and formidable shooter, only further exposed these offensive flaws.

To sum it up, the Bulls had few prolific scoring options, did a poor job of creating shots for teammates, and were just awful from beyond the three-point line. 


Defense: B+

On the contrary, defense was a strong point of the Bulls’ game this year, especially down the stretch. Their defensive efficiency was ranked 5th league wide thanks to being top 10 in points allowed and opponent field goal percentage. Guys like Caruso and Beverley are already known for their defensive prowess, but coach Billy Donovan had the entire team capable as a solid defensive unit. Only two full-time players (Zach Lavine and Goran Dragic) ended the season with a negative defensive box plus minus, a testament to how suffocating the Bulls were on defense all season.

All this was accomplished without Lonzo Ball and his phenomenal defense on the perimeter. One can only imagine how stifling the Bulls could have been with Ball in the lineup this season.

In a season full of disappointments, Bulls fans were always able to count on a solid defensive performance night in and night out.

Overall: D+

Their defense can only save them so much here. With how the core of this team is built, the Bulls were very much in a “Win Now” attitude coming into this season. Yet, they failed to even win more games than they lost. Granted, injuries cost them Lonzo Ball and also kept Lavine and DeRozan sidelined at times. But even at full strength, can this team really compete with the likes of the other titans in the Eastern Conference? Their Big 3 just don’t seem to fit with one another, and their younger players show little signs of future stardom. 

Seems like the perfect time for a rebuild, right? Apparently the front office does not share that sentiment. Team executive Arturas Karnisovas has proclaimed that revamping the roster in a major way is unlikely for them.

This begs the question: how long do the Bulls expect to keep this specific unit together? Vucevic is up for a new contract this year with no guarantee he’ll resign. DeRozan’s up for a new contract after next season. And neither him, Vucevic, nor Lavine are getting any younger. The sense of urgency to win now gets higher by the day. And time and time again, NBA fans are treated with some of the most elaborate mediocrity in the league, both on and off the court.

The time for change in Chicago is now.


Andy Diederich is a contributing writer at Back Sports Page. For more on Andy, follow him on Twitter @ndydiederich.

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